[sic] Magazine

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

With talismanic frontman Bradford Cox at the helm, the current Deerhunter line up is well travelled, well read and fast becoming seasoned thanks to their prolificacy, if not their time served. Halcyon Digest is the band’s fourth studio LP, the first since 2008’s dreamy indie outing Microcastle. In between the two, the highly accomplished Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP also saw the light of day.

On Halcyon Digest, Cox and guitarist Lockett Pundt take turns on vocal, each burying their contributions lower in the mix than ever before. And, with the exception of the lengthy instrumental outro on “Desire Lines”, the pair also take it easy when compared to Microcastle’s psychedelic jams and the song-driven highs of Rainwater.

In parts, Halcyon Digest seems like a faltering memory in comparison, hanging mirage-like in the mind’s eye. Its hazy rhythms fade in and out on understated percussion. This runs the risk of the album disappearing into the background – and it can do so – but only if you let it. Undoubtedly shy, but also ferociously consistent, Halcyon Digest encourages the listener to succumb throughout by suggestion rather than statement, and, rather like Cox’s laptop side-project Atlas Sound does, it succeeds, beckoning devotion almost subliminally.

Cox reputedly constructs his songs in a stream-of-conscious fashion, layering instruments until a track becomes “crowded”, though he concedes to the inclusion of saxophone on “Coronado” being directly attributable to some heavy rotation of Exile On Main Street while recording. And, whether retrospectively or not for the lyrics are largely indecipherable, the 7+ minute closer “He Would Have Laughed” is dedicated to the late garage whirlwind Jay Reatard with whom the band shared a close relationship since their split 7” in 2008.

It’s not important however as Halcyon Digest’s undeniably beauty is everywhere. The sparse crunch of percussive synth and Moses Archuleta ‘s drums make the opener “Earthquake”, and its ambient indie coasts on shimmering shoegaze textures that seem effortless only because of the band’s skilful intricacy. Out of their dreamscape occasionally saunter more straightforward material, and, to a track, “Don’t Cry”, “Revival” and, in particular, the catchy “Memory Boy” have the lazy hum of summer pop to them, while the forlorn “Basement Scene” houses travel-weary recollections of The Everly Brothers ‘ “All I Have To Do Is Dream”.

Save for infrequently being a touch too intangible, Halcyon Digest offers a rich feast – one that’s perhaps initially reluctant to show its true colours, but ultimately also one that is to savour.

Advised downloads: “Earthquake” and “Memory Boy”.

~Halcyon Digest is out now on 4AD .~